・Bespoke build Daimler 20/70 with Hooper-style body ・Original sleeve-valve engine supplied alongside modern powertrain ・Rescued from a scrapyard nearly 50 years ago and restored ・Rare International Award-winning car.
To paraphrase Monty Python… And now for something completely different!
What we have here is a 1928 Daimler 20/70 – one of the highly regarded ‘Sleeve-Valve’ Daimlers from the golden era of royalty and aristocracy ownership.
Known as the 'Silent Knight', the sleeve-valve engine transformed Daimler’s fortunes and enhanced the brand’s reputation for engineering excellence, with the long-stroke sixes renowned as some of the best engines of their time.
The sleeve-valve chassis was offered in four lengths, with the majority of cars gaining bodywork specified by the owner, either to a bespoke design or a coach-built body offered by a variety of manufacturers.
So that’s a brief background, but this car is a bit of a variation from tradition. Although the original inline six is being sold with the car (and is said to be in good running order), it is currently fitted with a much more modern powertrain from a 1990 Vauxhall Senator as the car has been used for a hire business over the past two decades, with many of the chauffeurs who have driven it preferring the modern drivetrain and automatic transmission over the Daimler’s naturally smoky big six and crash transmission.
The vendor is a big Daimler fan and a huge fan of the original 20/70s, so has ensured that ‘Daisy’ had the new engine fitted while earning a living, but in such a way that the original engine and gearbox can be refitted by simply bolting them in and out – that’s for the new owner to decide, as well as how the car will be used.
Since 2004, it has yielded the owner over £500 each time it has been used for wedding hire and it is presented in such a way that it could happily carry on with that tradition, though all of the original parts are there should a Daimler enthusiast wish to convert it back to genuine 20/70 specification with its matching engine and chassis numbers.
It’s for sale as the owner has retired to Spain and is building a left-hand-drive classic to take with him, leaving Daisy looking for a new home.
Not a huge amount is known about the car’s early years, but the vendor knows its history since 1973 when it turned up in a scrapyard and was rescued by a prominent Daimler and Lanchester Owners Club member.
During this time the chassis, engine and other mechanical elements of the car were overhauled, but the restoration was never finished. In the early 1980s, under new ownership, work was carried out over a five year period.
The dual cowl body was made by noted coachbuilder Tony Robinson, well respected for his work on Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. The pattern was taken from a Rolls-Royce Phantom I, a vintage car of the same age, in the style of a Hooper body designed for the Rolls.
The body was completed but the rest of the car never finished, and from 1992 it sat in a museum in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, awaiting completion before passing into the hands of a classic car dealer from whom the current owner acquired it in 2004.
It was transported to the vendor’s premises in Nottingham where the final body and chassis restoration were carried out, while the decision to use it for his wedding car business meant he also sourced a donor car engine and gearbox, keeping the originals in a crate. They will not be separated from the car.
Daisy has been 100% reliable in his ownership, having covered a good distance with like minded car enthusiasts in Spain and Nottingham.
This vehicle is considered particularly rare, possibly one of two V20 /70 tourers in existence and is on the largest V series chassis.
Included with the car are a UK V5 and also an old buff logbook, which covers some of the Daimler’s ownership history prior to 1973 when it was rediscovered and rescued.
A variety of bills are also included from its more recent past.
The beautiful Hooper-style body is made in 16 standard wire gauge (swg) aluminium of 1.6mm thickness, around half a millimetre thicker than that used on a Range Rover, for example.
The vendor was formerly a paint sprayer and body engineer and he painted the car himself in 2004. It still looks fabulous today, with very few signs of wear and tear.
Of particular interest are the beautiful hand-made stainless steel cranked door hinges. These were made and fitted at the considerable price of £233 in 1985. It is believed that the owner was not happy at the initial price, and £233 was the reduced bill. It equates to £710 at today’s prices!
There are bills totalling nearly £7,000 for building the main body tub and wings, which in today’s money would be in excess of £30,000.
On top of that, a bespoke hood was commissioned through world renowed vintage Bentley specialist Bob Peterson in Devon, finished in premium quality mohair, and trimmed by an ex Aston Martin trimmer. It also has specially made side screens with lightweight aluminium frames and Velcro.
Many subtle modern improvements have been added to make Daisy more practical. The front sidelights house indicators and there are discreet Rubberlite indicators at the rear that complement the original Rubberlite rear lamps.
As Daisy was used for wedding hire, it’s no surprise that the interior is as beautifully executed as the exterior, with fine quality red leather throughout and some additional rather unique touches. The seats and carpets were made and installed by a former Bentley trimmer, so are of the highest calibre.
In the rear, it has cocktail cabinets that were inspired by a Rolls-Royce Phantom of the same era built for his Highness the Khumar of Viziangaram. Inside the cabinets are specially made holders that support lead crystal glasses. These are further enhanced by recessed mirrors and interior cabinet lights. In addition to this there is a specially made bottle holder attached to the back of the fold down occasional seat.
The solid walnut dummy battery box located on the running board even houses a mini fridge to keep the champagne cold – perfect features should you wish to keep Daisy earning for a living, or if not to achieve full ‘man cave’ points for having a car with a bar on board – for the passengers only, of course.
When it came to choosing a driver-friendly powertrain for Daisy, the Vauxhall Senator was the perfect donor car. The 2.5-litre straight six fitted to the Daimler is attached to a GM automatic transmission.
A low mileage 1990 Senator was purchased for its engine, gearbox and ancillaries. This was carefully installed, fabricating brackets to pick up the original mounting holes in the chassis. Should a purist wish to reinstate the original engine, the Senator installation can be easily removed and the original engine bolted into place as previously. The original engine is sold with the car on the proviso that it stays with it indefinitely, ensuring that it remains a matching numbers 20/70. It would be a straightforward installation for someone who wanted to give Daisy a new life and a new colour scheme away from a working environment.
A stainless steel exhaust was made by a reputable exhaust specialist and is guaranteed for life. Some years ago the late president of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners Club travelled with the vendor in the car and agreed that Daisy was a quiet as the original ‘Silent Knight’ Daimler. The more modern installation has proved to be totally reliable during his 18 years of ownership.
This is a truly beautiful car that appeals on multiple levels. First, it’s an absolutely wonderful quality build and should most definitely not be mistaken for the usual wedding car fodder. It was bought and loved by an enthusiast who wanted to put it back on the road for the first time in five decades and his wedding car business helped fund that. You only have to look at it to see the level of love and craftsmanship that has gone into producing it.
Second, it has earning potential. There’s no reason at all why you couldn’t put it straight to work doing what it has done best since 2004, playing a starring role in people's big days. Third, it’s a vintage car with far more driveability than your average 1920s model – there’s no need to worry about double de-clutching, decoking, advancing or retarding. You can simply fire it up and drive it like a modern.
Or, there’s the more traditional option. You can buy the car, install the original engine, choose a new colour scheme and have yourself a delightful, restored and thoroughly charming vintage car with a fascinating tale to tell.
The choice is yours. But it’s a lovely thing!
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